Tim EntwisleThe exotic gardens and culture of Spain

On my first visit to Spain, I ran around madly photographing Mediterranean herbs and flowers I’d seen in gardens but not in nature, stunning garden landscapes, and everything washed in that sunlight that has besotted so many artists over the years. What a place! I can’t wait to return to Spain in May next year to lead Australians Studying Abroad’s Gardens in Spanish Culture tour.

This time I can share my passion with enthusiastic tour participants and together we can open garden gates normally shut to the casual visitor. I’m delighted our co-leader will be Anneli Bojstad, author of the beautiful Great Gardens of Spain and an expert on Spanish garden history and design. What a treat for us all!

La Casa del Pilatos- image by Eduardo Mencos

 

Every time I visit a garden, town or country, I gather up ideas and inspiration for Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, as well as for talks, blogs and radio chats. Inevitably I return busting with stories and knowledge about plants and gardens.

Alcazar Garden and Wall

 

In this case I’ll be adding art and culture to my swag. There will also be plenty of regional Spanish food and wine to savour along the way, plus the great art of Spain in iconic galleries such as the Museo del Prado in Madrid. In every city we’ll take time to visit the great monuments of the region.

Alhambra palace, Granada, Spain

 

The places we’ll visit on this trip are really amazing. We’ve got the ‘must sees’ like the Alhambra (I could return there every year…) and of course the botanic gardens in Madrid and Malaga.

Cigarral Menores Garden-private home of Maria Maranon - image by John Patrick

Cigarral Menores Garden-private home of Maria Maranon – image by John Patrick

Micaela Mencos private garden – by John Patrick

Eduardo Mencos Farm – Olive grove – image by John Patrick

 

But I’m most excited about the places slightly off the tourist trail, gardens that are normally closed to the public. We’ll spend time with Anneli’s husband, Eduaro Mencos, the famous Spanish garden designer, and have the privilege of spending a full day exploring their beautifully landscaped farm near Jarandilla de la Vera. We visit Carlos Mayans’ garden in Trujillo (created by his late mother) and the gardens of Marquesa of Casa Valdés, San Segundo and Julia Casaravila Silva (widow of Leandro Silva).

Palacio deViana – image Anneli Bojstad

 

For less formality we’ll also venture into the natural wilderness of Monfragüe National Park, circled by vultures and eagles as we search for exotic wildflowers.

Monfragüe National Park – by John Patrick

 

Adventure, culture, gourmet food and gardens – what more could you want? Well, perhaps to overnight at heritage hotels, including paradors in Ronda and Jarandilla de la Vera, and the beautiful Hotel San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo.

Córdoba Patio Festival

 

And what a time of year to visit – in May. Not only is it the perfect time of year for gardens, travelling and eating, but it coincides with Córdoba’s spectacular Festival de los Patios, with its Islamic-style courtyard displays of potted flowers.

Do join Anneli and me for an unforgettable journey through gardens in Spanish culture.

Find out more about this tour at ASA Gardens in Spanish Culture with Professor Tim Entwisle

La Concepción – image by Eduardo Mencos

La Moratalla Palace, Cordoba by John Patrick

 

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Tim Entwisle

About Tim Entwisle

Dr Tim Entwisle is a scientist and scientific communicator with a broad interest in plants, science and gardens, and Director & Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Previously he was Director of Conservation, Living Collections & Estates at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and prior to that, Director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens for eight years. Read Tim's full blog at Talking Plants

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